Substantive short articles on Marxian sociology

Lexit: Did it ever really exist?

During the EU referendum in the UK in 2016, although Brexit was championed mainly by the right, there was a significant left-wing argument for withdrawal, termed Lexit. Yet today, we are none the wiser of what a coherent Lexit approach might look like. Lexiters from the Socialist Workers Party and the left-wing newspaper, Morning Star, all maintain that a withdrawal from the EU must include a withdrawal from all its institutions including the single market and customs union. But rather than offer a positive vision, Lexiteers instead to point to the damage that leaving the EU will do to global capitalism in the long run. Academics that supported Brexit from the left have put forward ideas that would give us some idea of what a Lexit would look like. The results of these have been, quite frankly, embarrassing. A collection of ‘ideas’ and ‘recommendations’ are put forward that merely re-enforce the nationalism of the Brexit vote itself.

By | 2018-12-05T11:58:31+00:00 Dec 5, 2018|

Green paradoxes: How climate change policy preserves climate change causes

Why are societies failing to effectively respond to climate change? Why is it that “environmental degradation increases amid the growth of environmental attention and concern”? Environmental sociologists have examined many possible confounding factors, including The inadequacy of mainstream climate policies. We build upon the latter analysis by drawing from the Marxist conception of ideology as ideas and practices that conceal social contradictions. We argue that dominant climate policy mechanisms (“green” markets, technology, and growth) are based on assumptions that conceal a “capital-climate contradiction” or a “technical potential-productive relations contradiction.”

By | 2018-11-26T09:24:02+00:00 Nov 26, 2018|

The state and financialization: explaining recent European labor market policy

The financialized nature of current European political economy has pushed governments to pursue policies which are hostile to workers’ interests, even when these may disrupt stability and growth. Two policies in particular – punitive active labor market policies (i.e. workfare) and pan-European wage restraint – have both been unconvincing as drivers of growth and employment, and neither appear to contribute to institutional stability. But both have been aggressively implemented by many European states in spite of these failings.

By | 2018-11-07T13:44:51+00:00 Nov 7, 2018|

Dispossession through delivery: With and against Polanyi(ans)

Can governments do nothing but oscillate between the market-led destruction of social life and what used to answer to the name “the welfare state”? Levenson challenges this opposition, taking as his implicit point of departure that dispossession is not only an ongoing process central to neoliberalism, but to capitalism tout court.

By | 2018-10-31T11:05:16+00:00 Oct 31, 2018|

Is sociology stuck in the middle? The uses of Marxist general theory

In sociology today, especially exemplified by the rise of analytical sociology, Merton’s middle range dominates. But should it? Marx probably would have viewed much of middle rage theory as residing at “the level of appearances” with deeper hidden causes. But that is not to say that appearances are inconsequential. Even things that are caused themselves carry their own weight in the world. It is just to say that Marxism argues that any particular thing cannot be fully explained without analyzing the hidden social reality behind that thing. General theory’s challenge for sociologists is to put seemingly isolated social processes into a broader whole or structure. Marxism identifies structures, processes, and mechanisms that matter for a wide range of more particular social questions. This includes revolutions, racial formation, bureaucratic organizations, the division of housework, and so on.

By | 2018-10-25T12:22:18+00:00 Oct 24, 2018|

Radical black feminism and the simultaneity of oppression

As the word intersectionality falls from the lips of Hillary Clinton and increasingly is normalized and sanitized, we should be clear about its radical moorings. In fact, the idea did not begin in the academy but in struggle. Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the Combahee River Collective, a Radical Black Lesbian Collective. The concepts of “simultaneity” and “intersectional feminism” capture Combahee's grounding in the radical Black feminist tradition. As Barbara Smith, one of the co-founders of the Collective pointed out (pdf), "simultaneity" is the signature contribution of Black feminism. That is, race, class, gender, sexuality are in play at the same time. They intersect. They operate simultaneously.

By | 2018-10-18T13:31:20+00:00 Oct 18, 2018|

Was the gravedigger thesis central to Marx’s theory of the working class?

The thesis that capitalism would necessarily produce a class-conscious, revolutionary working class is almost completely absent from Marx’s mature scientific writings. Instead, he emphasized the obstacles to the formation of a united, class-conscious proletariat, including class fragmentation, the ideological mystification of class relations, and material dependence on a wage.

By | 2018-10-12T08:55:15+00:00 Oct 12, 2018|

Marxist Sociology Blog relaunch: Theory, research, politics

We are delighted to announce a relaunch of the Marxist Sociology Blog! The blog – which now has a new editorial team – is a public sociology blog aimed at publishing Marxist theory, research, commentary and debate for a general public audience. We will be regularly publishing short articles (around 1,000 words each) in accessible language with minimal academic jargon. We aim to bring you short articles summarizing cutting-edge research and theory from Marxist scholars. We also provide a forum for debate among Marxists and those who wish to engage Marxism. Much of the work published here will be commissioned by our editorial team, but we will consider publishing unsolicited articles.

By | 2018-10-08T08:52:58+00:00 Oct 8, 2018|

What Is the Relation between Theory and Practice, and Did Marx Discuss Engineering Society?

What is the relation between “theory and practice,” and what is the meaning of the unity of theory and practice? Does Marx identify practice with the idea of engineering society, so that the knowledge of the laws that govern economic forces serve as an algorithm, to construct, engineer, in a technical way, a new and better political and economic system?

By | 2018-10-06T04:47:31+00:00 Aug 23, 2016|